God the Creator
The doctrine of creation is one of the most fundamental areas of the Bible’s teaching. The first statement of Scripture is: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’. It was he who did so; it was not evolution – a random, uncontrolled process – that brought everything into existence. And God created all things in the way described in Genesis 1, which is part of the inspired revelation that God has given to mankind and is therefore absolutely reliable. This truth, that the eternal God created the world, should be foundational to all the rest of our thinking. God has spoken; it is for us to listen, and to submit to what we have heard. We should bear in mind that it is not only at the beginning of Genesis that we are told about creation; it is a theme that appears again and again throughout Scripture – another pointer to how fundamental this doctrine is.
If God has created us, it follows that he has authority over us – absolute authority. He has a perfect right to tell us how we should live, and we are correspondingly under obligation to obey. In Psalm 33 we find the theme of God’s creative activity taken up: ‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth’. And the earth is included in this activity, for ‘he gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses’. Then the conclusion is drawn: ‘Let all the earth fear the Lord’. The second part of this verse makes it clear that these words are a call to human beings, for in it the call goes out: ‘Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him’ – the one part of the verse explaining the other. It is altogether appropriate, we are being told, that God’s creatures should have a holy awe – or fear, or respect – for him who is their Creator.
That thought implies in particular that we should stand in awe of him as lawgiver. In any case, the idea of the fear of God points us very definitely to the obligation that lies on us, as God’s creatures, to obey his commandments. As David Dickson insists, in his Commentary, on this passage, ‘the right use of the works of creation is to take up how glorious . . . the Creator of them is and to beware to offend him’.
The final part of Job 28:28, ‘The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding’, clearly has two parallel sections. This leads us to conclude that ‘the fear of the Lord’ means ‘to depart from evil’. But how may we know what evil is? If we are to give an accurate answer to this question, we must rely on the revelation which our Creator has given. We are to stand in awe of him when he reveals his commands, which derive their authority from the fact that he has made us. So our duty is to submit to that authority – to recognise what his commandments reveal about what is good and what is evil, and to act accordingly.
In a civilised society, even when many of God’s commandments are ignored, there is broad agreement that a few of them ought to be obeyed – for instance, the prohibitions on murder and on stealing. But because people look on these prohibitions as if they have no firmer authority than the general consensus of society, they are not applied as widely as they ought to be. Thus the unborn in most countries no longer have the protection of the Sixth Commandment, at least for their first months in the womb. And the consensus which used to exist – that the lives of the old, the terminally ill and disabled infants should be preserved as far as possible – is now also fading away. Yet these protections are backed by the absolute authority of the divine Creator; when they are rejected, it is because he is despised.
The sad fact is that the vast majority of people no longer stand in awe of God. As in the time of the Judges in Israel, everyone does what is right in his own eyes, but what is right in God’s eyes is a matter of no importance. One very important factor in that loss of awe is the controlling influence that the theory of evolution has achieved in society today, particularly in education and the media. Conversely, one very significant reason why those in the academic world who promote evolution are unwilling to give it up, in spite of the many difficulties which surround the theory, is the determination not to be subject to the authority of a divine Creator. The carnal mind is enmity against God, and that is as true of the scientific mind as of any other; it does not wish to be subject to the law of God.
The thought of being independent of God was at the core of Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden; that same thought lies behind the resistance to reconsidering the prevailing theories of the origin of the universe, and of the human race in particular. Man, away from God, wishes to do what is right in his own eyes in spite of all the difficulties which result from this spirit of independence. It requires no great powers of observation to recognise the extent to which such a spirit has led to, for example, criminality, family breakdown and indiscipline among children. Only a renewed recognition of the authority of our Creator will bring about healing in society.
Of all the Ten Commandments, the one which is most rejected, even despised, is the Fourth, the command to ‘remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy’ (Exod. 20:8). But it is the one which bears testimony to the fact of creation. Here the pattern of the creation week is set forth as the basis for six days of work and one of rest, during every other week till the end of time – rest from worldly activities as far as possible, so that we may be free to focus on spiritual activity. ‘Six days shalt thou labour,’ we are directed, ‘and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work . . . for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it’.
Time and again, we see the significant influence of the doctrine of creation on the thinking of those whose words are recorded in the Bible. For instance, in Psalm 115, the writer – as inspired by the Holy Spirit – encourages those who would read and sing his words, throughout all time coming, to think of God as One who will bless those who fear him: ‘He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great’. But those who fear God are often conscious, not only of their own weakness, but also of the power of their enemies and the magnitude of the difficulties which they have to encounter. In the face of their weakness, their enemies and all their other difficulties, they should remember the certainty of God’s promises. Yet, in many cases, their faith is weak. One way in which their faith may be strengthened is to think of the infinite power of God – in particular, as Creator. So this Psalmist adds: ‘Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth‘. If he has done this vast work, can anything else be too hard for him?
Yet, although the universe – God’s creation – is as wonderfully impressive as it is, it will not last for ever. The Psalmist praises God as Creator: ‘Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands’ (Psa. 102:25). Then he reflects on the non-lasting nature of all these things, in contrast with God’s eternity: ‘They shall perish, but thou shalt endure’, and it is the Creator that will sweep them out of existence. And, sooner or later, each of us must leave this world and meet our Creator, the One who gave us our being and still preserves us in existence on earth. How appropriate the call: ‘Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth’ (Eccles. 12:1).
And if we are already past the days of our youth? This moment – before death comes, which may happen very suddenly, and before the potential failure of our faculties in increasing old age – is when we should begin to remember him, when we should seek him, when we should trust in Christ Jesus as the crucified Redeemer, who is able to save to the uttermost.
Kenneth D. Macleod is pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church in Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris. He is the editor of The Free Presbyterian Magazine, from the June 2012 issue of which the above editorial has been taken with permission.
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